By Amy Burton, Director of International Kids Kamp, Tucson Refugee Ministry –
The nations are not far away anymore, confined to forgotten islands or forsaken bush country. Christian missionaries have spent years praying, strategizing, and risking everything to go to these people. Now, God is bringing them here. Tucson becomes home to approximately 1,000 refugees every year. Tucson Refugee Ministry (TRM) helps build bridges between the church and the nations at our doorstep.
Every summer, TRM hosts an annual week-long program for Muslim and Christian kids. The campers are refugee children from countries such as Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria, as well as a number of American kids. The volunteers are followers of Jesus from different congregations across Tucson … and beyond. Fifty-five dynamic volunteers joined together for Kids Kamp 2016 to create a fun contextual program that emphasized important Biblical truths, life-changing stories, and unforgettable memories for 161 children and teens from 15 different countries.
More than just a day camp, International Kids Kamp provides structured activities that encourage cooperation, character-building, and leadership qualities. Campers participate in community service activities to learn how to give back to others. And most importantly, campers learn truths about God. This past year, campers studied the story of Joseph in Genesis. They learned the importance of following God in all circumstances and how He can use ALL things for our good.
We thank God for how many children and teens He brought to International Kids Kamp this year and the impact that the program has throughout the entire year. Since volunteers strive to get to know campers and their families by building meaningful relationships, these relationships oftentimes extend beyond just the one week of camp. Campers who have continued to attend International Kids Kamp over several years have built sustainable relationships with followers of Jesus, thus benefiting through additional spiritual conversations, mentoring and continued contact with godly role models throughout the year. We pray that God will use these relationships to do BIG things in Tucson and beyond!
We are SO thankful for the faithful giving of Arizona Southern Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program that helped us reach the nations at our doorstep.